The Beach is a highly entertaining film that falls prey to Hollywood in the end.
Let me start off first by saying that cinematographer Darius Khondji does a godlike job at shooting this film. Khondji shoots everything with a sense of grandeur and even if you don’t enjoy the film, you can still watch The Beach for its postcard views.
In The Beach, we follow world traveler, Richard (Leo DiCaprio). Richard is on a trip to Bankok, Thailand. He is given a map to a perfect beach by a man known own as Daffy Duck (Robert Carlyle). So, being a free soul, Richard heads out to find this perfect beach. He asks his two neighbours in the hotel if they would like to join him, and they do. So, Richard, Françoise (Virginie Ledoyen), and Étienne (Guillaume Canet) set off on a journey to find paradise.
What they find is an island that is perfect, but has its own little secrets. On one side of the island are a group of men harvesting marijuana and on the other a small community that lives peacefully in what could easily be called paradise. The community is lead by a magnetic Sal (Tilda Swinton) who will do anything to keep the community a secret.
As acting goes, DiCaprio does well in the film. Though, the portion of the film where he goes through his madness really taxes our suspension of disbelief. But, DiCaprio does prove that he’s not just a pretty face on screen and that he can actually act. Canet does well with his limited role as the Frenchman Étienne who is in the middle of a love triangle with Richard. The real surprise is Ledoyen who turns in a wonderful performance.
Direction by Danny Boyle is steady and he gets what he can out of the script by John Hodge (adapted from the novel by Alex Garland). This is not Boyle’s best film.
The Beach has a great premise and explores some good issues – can paradise really be on Earth and what would you do to keep it perfect? But, by the climax of the film, everything has been put aside to end the film with a very Hollywood style ending. I would have liked to see something more substantive as an ending. As it stands, The Beach is a highly entertaining and beautiful film that is marred only by a shoddy ending.